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Food Combining 101 for Better Digestion

Updated: Mar 20, 2020

as featured in Sweat Equity Magazine, by Grace Van Berkum, R.H.N. Breaking down the break down of foods…..

Sweat Equity Magazine May/June 2013-Grace Van Berkum

EAT THIS! Food Combining Basics for Better Digestion by Grace Van Berkum R.H.N.

Did you know the combinations of foods that you eat can affect your digestion and your health?  Do you suffer from bloating, smelly gas, constipation, mucous or partially digested foods in your stools? All foods enter and exit the body at different times in the body and require different digestive enzymes and acid/alkaline conditions. When we eat foods that do not combine well, a bevy of negative things occur in the body like putrification, fermentation, indigestion, and constipation which if ignored over time can lead to disease.  If you have these symptoms, please know that you body should not be responding this way to food every single time you eat.  When you are digesting your food with ease, your body functions with ease. What happens in your stomach and digestive tract affects all aspects of health AND can be the key to long-term, vibrant health.

Suffering from digestive issues is not fun and affects quality of life.  The undigested food stays in your digestive tract and putrefies, creating a toxic environment that makes your blood more acidic and allows yeast, viruses, and potential cancer cells and parasites to grow inside you. Immune system suffers making you more prone to illness when your inner ecosystem becomes damaged.

So what is food combining? Food combining is a system of eating foods that combine together efficiently to assist digestion by breaking down food and assimilating all the vitamins and minerals within it. Since proteins, carbohydrates and fats all digest in different ways, sometimes they can interfere with each other in the digestive system, which is what causes a gassy, bloated feeling. By properly combining your foods, you can enhance digestion, reduce bloating, speed up elimination, and increase energy so that your digestive tract does not have to work so hard to give you the nutrients you need for energy. Basically, food combining is about finding “quick exit combinations.” The quicker the food is digested, the less waste it will leave.There are many levels of food combining, some being very strict with every morsel of food. However, today I am going to go over very basic food combining, which can still lead to great results.

If you don’t have any digestion issues then you don’t have to worry about food combining. Food combining might not be for everyone but is definitely worth trying out and seeing how it makes you feel. It can be especially useful for people with weak digestion and slow metabolism as it helps to bring the body into balance and working more efficiently.  At one point in my life I had major digestion issues, and the practice of food combining has helped heal my body. It is a way of life and eating for me, and many of my clients, and I have seen amazing results with it!  Following these easy rules will enhance not only digestion, but when you are digesting your food properly, life becomes easier and better.  Think about it! Imagine life without bloating, indigestion, and gas, and a life filled with lots of energy! It all starts with good digestion.  Let’s take a look:

Food Combining Basics:

Rule #1: Always eat fruit and melon on an empty stomach. Fruit eating is excellent and offers plenty of nutrition but best done alone, away from other foods, to avoid fermentation and putrification in the digestive tract causing gas. 20-60 minutes away from other foods is ideal.

Rule #2:  Starches + vegetables= good. (Starches + protein= bad).

Starches should be eaten with vegetables only (not protein).  This includes grains, squashes, sweet potatoes, yams, root vegetables, beans, cereals, breads.  Give your self about 3 hours to fully digest.

(i.e.) good combinations: salad and squash soup, quinoa and vegetables, brown rice and vegetables, beans and stirfry, veggie sandwich etc.

Rule #3: Protein + vegetables= good. (Protein + starches= bad). Protein should be eaten with vegetables only (not starches).  This includes nuts, seeds, beans, flesh. Give your self about 4 hours to fully digest non-animal protein.  Animal protein can take 8 hours or more. (i.e.)  nuts on a salad, beans and veggies, flesh meat and salad, veggie omelette, seed veggie pate, etc.

Rule #4:  Avoid liquids with meals. Most people are shocked at this because we are always told to hydrate. Hydration is one of the best things you can do for yourself but drink your water away from meals.  Best time to drink is 15 minutes before you eat or 1 hour after a meal.  Liquids during eating actually dilute digestive juices which slows down digestion and metabolism,  impede absorption of nutrients, can contribute to indigestion, and can also contribute to cravings since not all nutrients are being absorbed. (Strong cravings indicate your body is out of balance). A little sip here and there throughout eating is not detrimental, just avoid lots of liquids.  Also, avoid cold water. Stick to room temperature water that doesn’t shock your body and slow the digestive process.

**What’s an example of poor food combining?

“Healthy” granola usually contains rolled oats (starch), nuts (protein), and honey and dried fruits (sweet fruit). The combination of protein and starch creates various gasses, including sulfur. The combination of starch and sweet fruit creates fermentation and alcohol.

So basically vegetables go with everything. Do not mix fruit sugars with other foods and do not mix starches and proteins for optimal digestion. This combination slows the digestive system anywhere from 6-14 for hours which results in extra toxins in your system, slowing down it’s function.  Best digestion can be a speedy 3 – 4 hour process which leaves a surplus of digestive juices available for detoxifying the body, not adding toxins to it.

Grace Van Berkum-Gracious Living-Food Combining-Digestion

Also note that:

*Dark green leafy vegetables are the only food that can be combined with every other food group without any negative effects as they help digest other foods through stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes. Green leaves mixed in fruit smoothies are excellent.  The fiber in the greens also slows down the absorption of sugar from fruit which makes drinking green smoothies possible for people with high sensitivity to sugar, such as those who have diabetes, candida or hypoglycemia.

*Avocados are technically fruits but are considered neutral and can be eaten with everything. They are one of my top 10 super foods since they are loaded with good fats, gluthathione, fibre, and potassium.

*Tomatoes are technically fruits as well, but can be combined it as if it were a vegetable because of their low sugar content.

*Technically, beans are a starch and a protein. Soak them before cooking and eat with vegetables for optimal digestion.

*Lemons and limes, although acidic fruits, are great to be consumed with other foods as they have powerful alkalinizing effects on the body. (ie.) in salad dressings, sauces, or smoothies.

*Digestion begins in the mouth so chew your food thoroughly no matter what combination of food you are eating.

*Keep meals as simple as possible for best digestion. 3-5 ingredients is best.

*Digestion could also be compromised due to poor – and long term – food combining, yes, but it also can be due to limited release of HCL, enzymes, bile, poor gut flora, gut inflammation and other issues. Try food combining out and if issues still persist, I advise seeing a holistic nutritionist or naturopath.

By applying the simple rules of food combining, digestion and hence, life may be enhanced.  If you are suffering from digestive issues or a slow metabolism, try it out for a week and notice how you feel. The best way to find out what works for you is to experiment with different foods in combinations at different times. This will give you the best knowledge possible about how your body is working. What works for me might not necessarily work for you so listen to your own body and let it guide you. There is nothing more empowering than awareness and knowledge of the self.

You are what you eat. You are what you think. Gracious Living Lifestyle


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